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For the first time, the U.S. government has publicly acknowledged the existence in Washington of what appear to be rogue devices that foreign spies and criminals could be using to track individual cellphones and intercept calls and messages. The use of what are known as cellphone-site simulators by foreign powers has long been a concern, but U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies – which use such eavesdropping equipment themselves – have been silent on the issue until now.The agency said it had not determined the type of devices in use or who might have been operating them.The agency's response, obtained by the Associated Press from Wyden's office, suggests little has been done about such equipment, known popularly as Stingrays after a brand common among U.S. police departments. The reply from DHS official Christopher Krebs noted that DHS had observed "anomalous activity" consistent with Stingrays in the Washington area. A DHS official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the letter has not been publicly released added that the devices were detected in a 90-day trial that began in January 2017 with equipment from a Las Vegas-based DHS contractor, ESD America.In a reply, then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency had created a task force to combat illicit and unauthorized use of the devices.
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